Downtown plans tweaked to help shopping center owner

The Mundelein shopping center that Taste of Paris calls home was recently given preliminary approval to continue functioning as a place of business.

Mike Zimmerman, owner of the Mundelein Shopping Center on Seymour Avenue, said the village’s plan for downtown development is unfairly killing his investment. One Mundelein official, however, stands firm against revising the downtown plan to help Zimmerman.

For nearly 10 years Mundelein has worked to create a downtown with mixed retail and office space on a 10-acre subdivision several blocks east of Seymour Avenue, an area previously used for manufacturing.

A 2012 rehab of Mundelein’s zoning districts requires that land on each side of the new subdivision should become downtown-type, high-rise homes.

The east side is already known as Cardinal Square condominiums and apartments. Mundelein Shopping Center, and Taste of Paris, is on the far edge of the western portion.

The idea was to create newer residential homes closer to desirable retail and public transportation, while also funneling shoppers into the new downtown. The plan aims to discourage shops far away from the premier area.

Mundelein’s plan and zoning commission held a June 4 public hearing on Zimmerman’s request to remove a ban on retail uses in his shopping center.

Zimmerman told commissioners that he was unaware of the 2012 zoning change, and said he has 10 of the shopping center’s 12 storefronts filled, but a prospective tenant was recently denied a business license due to zoning.

The shopping center is considered a “legal non-conforming structure,” which means it can stay so long as its business use is constant. If any portion of the building is vacant for more than 180 days, then a residential use is required, according to village code.

Zimmerman said prospective businesses view his shopping center as too risky because neighboring storefronts could become permanently vacant, hence reducing the area’s consumer appeal.

Having Taste of Paris in Mundelein Shopping Center is a great asset because people will travel to find it, Zimmerman said. But people will not want to dine in an empty shopping center, and he may not be able to build supplementary stores nearby because of village zoning, he continued.

Furthermore, Zimmerman said his property value significantly drops because it has no residential value. The neighboring land still has retail shops, a car wash, an industrial warehouse and Mundelein’s public works department.

A proposal was made to rezone Mundelein Shopping Center as “downtown mixed use,” and commissioners voted 5-1 to recommend the change to village trustees. The group does first reviews and gives advice to village trustees. A final decision could be expected next month.

The majority voters conceded that a multi-story building with first floor businesses and homes on upper levels would be an acceptable concept. That allows Zimmerman to keep leasing his land, but with the expectation that it will eventually change.

Commissioner Charlie Butler was the lone opposition to rezoning Mundelein Shopping Center. He said the change sets a precedence, and other retail landowners will ask for the same exception to be made. He said the 2012 plan was studied at length and not approved lightly, and therefore it deserves to be kept intact.

Tags: , ,

0 Comments

Modal